The sign behind the sign at a Grand Street store

I’m not sure exactly when 229 Grand Street was built in the late 19th century. But as far as Lower East Side walk-ups go, it’s a cut above its neighbors.

That’s mainly because of the Gothic-inspired upper windows and the decorative accents on the ground-floor storefront.

And the checkerboard pattern at the entrance to the building—another wonderful old-school touch.

M. Kessler Hardware has occupied 229 Grand Street for decades. (It’s never open when I walk by late in the evening, but I assume it still operates.)

The shop has been there for so long, you can even see the Kessler name in flaked, faded paint on the window behind the more prominent hand-painted “M. Kessler Hardware” sign.

But look closely on the glass above the entrance door at the left. It looks like another layer of faded paint spells out “jeweler.”

Did Kessler share the space with a jeweler or jewelry store—or did a jeweler set up shop here between Elizabeth Street and the Bowery before Kessler Hardware came along?

A clue emerges in the New York Times archive. A January 1927 story describes the trial of a man accused of a “gem holdup” at a pawnshop at 229 Grand Street; $47,000 in jewelry was stolen at gunpoint from the Schwartz Brothers pawnbrokers.

With a haul like that, it sounds like this pawnshop had an extensive jewelry collection and may have advertised that on the store window.

[Top photo: Streeteasy]

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7 Responses to “The sign behind the sign at a Grand Street store”

  1. Lady G. Says:

    Great Detective work! What a classic storefront, Kessler obviously does not want to change it. And the building is beautiful.

  2. keenanpatrick424 Says:

    I second Lady G’s comment.Appreciate the detective work to bring this gem of a building to our attention.

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you! It’s fun to find these and then do the sleuthing.

  4. MizScarlettNY Says:

    Thank you, Ephemeral, for your wonderful zooming-in feature. It’s just delightful to visual inspect the building details.

  5. David H Lippman Says:

    Fascinating story!

  6. Scott Russell from San Antonio,Texas Says:

    I happened upon an early photo of a street cart who’s umbrella reads “Loans Schwartz bros 229 grand st New York “with the three orbs signifying a pawn shop. Wish I knew how to download it here.

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